DPVP does NaPoWriMo – Tips

In our preparation for National Poetry Writing Months, where we’re encouraging everyone to write poetry (and share it with us, if you’re feeling brave enough!), here’s author, editor, bloggist, artist and team Web Elf, Nimue Brown, with some top tips!


Never written a poem but want to have a go? Here are some pointers that will help you avoid the mistakes new poets often make and jump straight in with something strong and engaging.

  • Read some poems. Particularly, read some poems by professional poets. Don’t worry about analysing them, just let them happen to you. Poets who read poetry are greatly advantaged in their own writing. Or, get on youtube and listen.
  • Go with that first rush of emotion and inspiration. Then leave what you’ve written alone for a bit and come back. Don’t treat those words as sacred. Take what works, ditch what doesn’t. You need inspiration and crafting to make a good poem.
  • Try reading it out loud if you can – that often reveals places where the words don’t flow well.
  • You do not have to rhyme. In fact, too much rhyming can sound naive or forced. Don’t sacrifice meaning for the sake of rhyming. If you have to stretch a line to hit the rhyme at the end, ditch it. Those never sound good.
  • Think about who you are writing for. There is nothing wrong with writing poetry as catharsis, but ask who is going to want to read it? Do the catharsis first, then come back on your second draft and think about who the poem is for, and what they will get out of it. If you are just wallowing in misery – as too many amateur poets do – it gets dull really fast for the reader. If what you’ve written is so full of personal references that no one else could hope to understand it, then it won’t work for a reader. The aim is not to write a cryptic puzzle for other people to try and figure out. The aim is to communicate something. Don’t baffle your readers, enlighten them.
  • A poem is not a collection of metaphors thrown at an idea to see what sticks. If you like metaphors, don’t throw them at each other randomly. Also, watch out for mixed metaphors that make no sense. Go and listen to this song, and then do some other thing. https://youtu.be/8vVuVn1Yb8A (unless, like Mitch Benn, you’re doing it for laughs, that’s always fine.)
  • Simple is often best. Use the language you speak in. Don’t shoehorn in Shakespearean thees and thous and cants and hasts – if that’s not how you talk it will, I promise you, sound weird. Don’t use words whose meaning you are unsure of – I’ve seen people do it and you can undermine what you meant to say so very easily. The language you use is good enough. Go listen to some Kate Tempest for a fine example of someone using her own voice. https://youtu.be/z4qGLDkK9TA
  • Be you. Be real. Be authentic. Be bold. Be brave. Say what matters. Say something you’ve never heard anyone else say but that needs to be out there. Say what you love. Say what you’re angry about. Say what needs to change. Write poetry to change the world.

Batty Nan – Here for you…

We have an entirely fictional character known as Batty Nan who acts as a figurehead for the team and appears on this website in the shape and form of an agony aunt with some knowledge and experience of Paganism and witchcraft. Questions sent to Batty Nan will be answered by the whole Disabilities Team, usually by who we feel has the most expertise in the area covered by the question.

This enables our community to get the best possible advice but please be aware that we are all volunteers with different backgrounds and none of us are doctors or health care professionals so always consult your doctor or other health professional before changing your lifestyle, health regime or medication.

To ask our Agony Aunt team a question, get advice, or to submit a spoof scenario for Batty Nan, go to our Contacts page and use the Disabled Pagans Voices Project contact form, with “Batty Nan” at the head of your message.

By doing so you are agreeing that your question and our response may appear on this website in an anonymised form.

If you are looking for a more private response then use the Contact the Disabilities Team form on the same page.

DPVP does NaPoWriMo

Do you love a good acronym?
For anyone who doesn’t know; DPVP is the Disabled Pagans Voices Project. This project, hosted by the Pagan Federation Disabilities Team, gives a space for disabled Pagans (and their carers and families) to raise their voices. We invite submissions in the way of blogs, essays, short stories, art, music, poetry and more. We welcome any creative offering that you would like to share.

Here’s Debi Gregory talking about the DPVP, two years ago at the Online Lughnasadh Festival about ways in which Disabled Voices could be heard.

One of my first interactions with the Pagan Federation Disabilities Team was to submit a poem to the DPVP.


So what about the NaPoWriMo?
It is National Poetry Writing Month, an annual poetry project where poets (and the poetically curious) are encouraged to write a poem, every day for the month of April. The project was the brain child of poet Maureen Thorson who was inspired by National Novel Writing Month. Maureen started back publishing on her own blog in 2003 and as the project grew she started an independent website where people could link their own poetry.
NaPoWriMo is an amazing way to get people committing to writing poetry. Each day there is an optional prompt that you can work with. Everything from trying out different poetic forms like a Tanka (the Haiku’s older, longer, Granddaddy) or writing a New York Style poem (which is a veritable recipe and makes for really bizarre but enjoyable poem). It’s fun, its challenging and an excellent way to flex your creative muscle.


Like any challenge it is meant to be fun, if you can’t commit to a month, do what you can. If you have never written a poem, feel free to find your muse and have a try. I’ve been participating in NaPoWriMo since 2014. What makes it special for me is having a community to share with. So this year I thought it might be nice to get DPVP poets and aspiring poets to participate in writing along with NaPoWriMo.

If you feel inspired to join in, send your poems or your blog links and we will publish them on the DPVP blog.

To get involved with the DPVP’s NaPoWriMo, email dpvp@paganfederation.co.uk and use NaPoWriMo in the title!


National Deputy Disabilities Manager
District Disabilities Liaison – South East

Spoons and Spanners in the Works…

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in your own reality and to forget, at least for a time, that your reality and someone else’s isn’t always the same thing. Even if you experience the same situations, in the exact same way, your perceptions of those experiences, the way your minds process them, can be worlds apart.

It’s not always as simple as saying “this happened and this is how you should all react” because one person’s offence is another person’s humour. What one individual may find traumatic, another may not even notice has happened and that’s all before you take personality and personal circumstances into account! It’s both a fascinating and excruciatingly complex part of the human condition… And when you’re in a situation where you have to navigate these experiences, both your own and others’, on a regular basis, it is quite literally impossible to get it right 100% of the time. On top of all this is the fact that even if perceptions align, support is given in the right places and personalities don’t rub the wrong way, we must also walk the tightrope of constructive communication.

Many of you may have noticed that the Disabilities Team had a bit of a breakdown of communication some weeks ago. This wasn’t the whole team; I’d like to make that very clear. This was a case of unsuccessful communication between the management and, as I’m the Disabilities Manager, the blame for that has to rest on me, at least partly.

I won’t go into too many details because, frankly, this was a private matter that should have remained private, but I made a choice to support my community in a certain way and part of the way I do that is by being as honest and frank as I feel is appropriate… And what I feel is appropriate is often too honest and frank for some people! So, with respect to the others involved, I’d like to give you the explanation I feel you deserve but I ask that in return, you, as the community I serve, remember that one side of a story, or even two or three sides, even combined together, don’t always reflect the truth because perceptions differ, so the best policy is to remember that if you weren’t there, it probably isn’t any of your business… This is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way and the long road to the discovery has caused me many a headache, including the one that led to this particular miscommunication.

Long story short, I said some rather inadvisable things during what I thought was just a usual bought of low mood in a private capacity. As it turns out, this was more than a case of simple low mood and more of one of those times that I probably should have been shut in my bedroom and had cookies thrown at me through a cat flap until I was safe to come out again. Instead, I refused to accept that I was feeling quite as bad as I really did and when it was pointed out to me by someone I cared about, I did what we typically do and I lashed out. What can I say; I’m only human!

However, instead of this episode of private health issues and personality clashes being kept private, it was taken further and I asked for help. It seems that I asked for help in the wrong place as when I expected the support system I had helped to create to support me, it collapsed. This is partly my fault and partly the fault of others but I want to make it perfectly clear that no malicious intent was intended by anyone. This was a series of misunderstandings, bad communication and general human error on the part of a few people who are all trying to do the work of ten people each… That drastic workload being undertaken by a brave few could not keep on going without something unfortunate happening… And, as usual, my impatience and inability to just let things go brought it all to a head.

I want to apologise for the confusion, the upset and the distress that this situation has brought about to my friends, my colleagues, their families and the community. I couldn’t keep going forever and I’m now, in hindsight, rather shocked at just how long I managed without having a total meltdown (I have the support of my team and you people in the community to thank for lasting so long!)…

Procedures were in place to stop this sort of thing from happening but since the team has gone through some pretty drastic changes over the last year, those procedures needed updating and communicating to people and it is directly my fault that this wasn’t done and I really can’t apologise enough for that.

After discussions with the PF Committee and the Disabilities Team, I’ve decided that, if you’ll all still have me, I would like to remain in my post as Disabilities Manager, after a break and some readjusting of roles and support procedures to reflect what this unfortunate episode has highlighted…

I hope that you will join me in applauding the team and how they have dealt with this issue with dignity and integrity and I hope you all had a Happy Yule and a blessed new year.

xXx Debi xXx

A single word…

A single word…

A single word is all it takes…
Words are funny things. A single word, placed just so, has the power to make or break a relationship, to empower or destroy, to encourage or obliterate.
A single word is enough to say “no”, it’s enough to say “yes.”
A single word is enough to say “I just can’t”, “no more” and “I don’t have anything left in me.”
It’s enough to say “I understand”, “I’m here” and “I won’t let you fall.”
A single word is enough to fill the breach and enough to cause a chasm.

A single word is all it takes…
But sometimes saying that single word is too much to bear and hearing it is grim.
A single word but which to choose? Which to use? Which is best?
The wrong word could cause catastrophe but using no word would be worse.

A single word is all it takes…
Sometimes we use a word and think it’s right but the ears hear another meaning than the one we intend…
Sometimes it’s the right word for us, the only word we can manage and the ears refuse to hear it, caught up in their own hurricane of loquacity.
A single word but one word from many voices, many faces, for only two ears and one mind, is sometimes too much.

A single word but which to choose? Which to listen to? Which to act upon?
A single word but which is right? Which is true? Which is the one?

A single word is all it takes… But which to hear? Which to say?

A single word was all it took… That word was “help”…

World Mental Health Day and further musings.

So, today is World Mental Health Day and we were going to make a HUGE deal out of it but, as is typical, we all seem to be in low function mode right now. It’s a bit of a daft time of year for this sort of thing really… Most people who suffer with mental health conditions in this country notice a marked difference in their mood when the days start to darken… So the chances of us being productive at this time of year are much slimmer than in, say, May or June…

You may have noticed that we’ve been a bit quieter and if you were with us last year, you’ll probably have noticed it then too… The team is made up of disabled people and so, we made the decision very early on that we would not try to fight this and would, instead, go with the flow. Therefore, we’re going into hibernation mode!

Don’t worry! We’re not completely gone, we’re just not going to be working much until the Spring comes. We’re still here if you need us and we hope that you can join in our conversations in the support group and will still feel confident in coming to us if you need our support but there will be slow progress in our usual work for the next few months.

We hope to see you at our festival in a few weeks though, as that is definitely still going on!

On a more personal note, you may have noticed that i’m being quieter than usual… Some of you may have even noticed why! This time of year always has a bizarre effect on me… I tend to be a little more… Difficult, let’s say difficult, for the sake of being polite… I’m a little more difficult at this time of year and so i try to take myself out of situations where i may cause offence or upset… Well… That is… I do when i start noticing that i’m doing it… Which is usually after i’ve caused a bit of trouble… And it seems i’ve come to this point now! So, with this in mind, i’ll see you on the other side of this… Whatever it is… And i sincerely hope i see none of you during it! 😉

Stay safe, be blessed and much love!

xXx Debi xXx

Future plans from the Disabilities Team!

The festivals began as a way to reach out to the disabled within the community but it went so much further than that by reaching out to not only the disabled but carers, families, people with strict working hours so that anyone, even those who find it easy to attend regular festivals, wanted to be a part of what we created. This far exceeded our expectations.

We wanted to bring a small part of the community to those who felt like they were on the inside looking out at the world and what happened was, rather than bringing you outside or bringing the outside in, we just broke down those walls and now everyone is together and a part of it… Whatever it is! Even we still don’t know!

We can’t tell you all of our plans for the future as we don’t want to get your hopes up for things that may not be possible BUT we can confirm that a retreat is in the discussion stages, as are plans to fill the spaces between our quarterly festivals.

We’re looking into opening our own team shop to bring you some amazing work from our resident artist, Carl, and Batty Nan and there are big plans for other resources that we hope will engage you, inspire you and energise you all!

Part of this, is to move the Online Festivals on to the main Pagan Federation page and to expand them so we hope you will join us there and continue to support us in our work! 🙂


Regards and Blessings

The PF Disabilities Team


Being a Disabled Pagan by Sylvia Rose.

Post by Sylvia Rose who is our District Disabilities Liaison for Devon, Cornwall, and the Isles

What’s it like to be a disabled Pagan?
In some ways, much like being an able-bodied one; in other ways it can be different. Obviously there can be physical limitations: you can’t get to rituals because you can’t walk that far, manage being cold for that long, or maybe can’t even get out of bed that day. More insidious are the internal differences. If you’re too spaced out for your brain to focus, even dragging yourself physically to a ritual wouldn’t mean that in your mind you were able to meaningfully participate.

So, you need to be kind to yourself. Maybe you didn’t even notice the last full moon. You didn’t mark the last seasonal festival. That doesn’t make you a worse Pagan: it makes you someone with a lot extra to be dealing with too. Over the last couple of years, as my health has become much worse, the usual seasonal celebrations have become painful for me. Not just the getting out of bed, but that that’s so much not where I’m personally at. Celebrating the burgeoning promise of spring when life feels more a matter of surviving than of looking forward? Dancing (or not, in my case) the maypole when rampant sexuality is the very last thing on my mind? I’ll opt out and stay in bed. And that’s ok. If where I’m at is somewhere very different, I have to make the best of what I actually can connect with. Birds nesting, swallows returning, flowers blooming, sunset lengthening and now shortening again, these are all the ways in which, intermittently, I stay in touch with where we are in the year, and with celebrating its pleasures. Sometimes that’s enough: it’s just different. I’ve certainly spent a lot more time watching the sparrows on the bird feeder than I ever did before when I was working.

And sometimes it gets harder to have faith. While everyone else is happily trilling how the Gods send you what you need/ask for/manifest from your own subconscious, it starts to look like by being so ill/disabled/debilitated, you’ve not being doing your Paganism quite right. Which is of course completely not true. Who knows why illness comes, but it’s certainly not sent by the Gods because of anything we’ve done or not done. Yes, you can learn things from debility: you can learn things from any adversity. It doesn’t mean that others are entitled to project their own views of the meaning of illness onto you, Pagan or otherwise. And if you yourself feel further from the Gods, uncertain of what you truly believe, that’s ok too. Don’t ever blame yourself, just go with it and see what might still make sense or give you a feeling of real connection to the greater world. (See sparrows above).

Don’t ever feel embarrassed to ask for healing, as if you might seem greedy for wanting more than your fair share of a ritual’s energy. If others are blessed with being able bodied, why shouldn’t they do something to help those who are less privileged? I’m sure that if the situation were reversed, you’d do the same. And in any case, working with healing energies benefits everyone, not just the intended recipient.

But you might want to spend some time thinking about what healing would actually look like for you. Able bodied people tend to assume that everyone wants to be like them, therefore healing is just about restoring someone to “normal” functioning. Which might be true for you too. But it might be something more complex, something deeper. Most people with a long term health condition, I think, would say that their illness or debility has gone towards making them who they are now. And if you don’t regret who you are, can you regret what it was that made you that way? So true healing might be in living better with your current reality, making your peace with how things are, having more options or less pain. Or maybe not. That’s the great thing about being a Pagan: no-one else can tell you what’s right for you. This Lammastide, the question I’m working with is from Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance: “what do you hope to harvest?”

And be creative. Do things intuitively, not by the book. If you can’t do things standing up, can you do them lying down? There are some strands of Pagan practice that use a lot of external props – the right colour candles and flowers, the right blend of incense, facing the right direction etc. In my view (others may disagree) externalities are useful in as much as they help us connect with something deeper, something beyond. But the true magic is going on within your own head, out of your own will and intent. So lie down and do it all as a trance journey, and you can have whatever colour candles you want, without having to do shopping first. Yes, it’s nice to work energy with other people there, or standing at your altar, but if you can’t, it still works from your sofa instead.

Sometimes illness feels to me like living in a bubble that’s floating gradually away from the quotidian world, to a place where my life is just so different from the usual day to day living that others can’t really follow me there. Which is true. So why would we expect able-bodied Paganism to reach out to our other place? We need to find our own disabled Paganism that works for us, individually, however we are. Which may be less about being connected with the cycles of the sun and moon, which can seem a bit distant, and more with our own immediate energy needs, and systems of self healing.

Some of these can be quite formal, such as reiki or chakra work, and some take more concentration than I can usually summon up. Some can be physical movements, which are useful when your body is working better than your brain. And sometimes I just don’t feel motivated, so I’m kind to myself and don’t. But here’s my favourite self-healing-while-lying-completely-still:

Take yourself into a trance state, whatever way works for you. Then see yourself entering a healing temple. Explore the edges, the quarters: what do you find there? Are there more things you’d like to add? Stand before the altar. What’s on it? Are there candles to be lit, incense to burn, water to purify yourself with? Is this temple sacred to a particular deity? (I usually work with Brigid, but there are many healing Gods). Invoke them, feel their presence. Maybe dance a bit, sing to them. (When you can’t dance in mundane life, dancing in a trance journey comes a close second). Are there other allies you’d like to be there to? Invite them. Then when you’re ready, go to a comfortable couch in the centre of the temple, lie down, and just open yourself to healing. Let energy, light, strength, whatever you need, surround you and flow into you. Luxuriate in it. Drink it in for as long as you wish, and then some more too. Then when you’re full, stand up, say your thanks and goodbyes and return slowly to the mundane world.
This temple is now yours.

It will be there for you whenever you need it and for whatever you need it for.

You deserve it.

Sylvia Rose – District Disabilities Liaison for Devon, Cornwall & the Isles.


Flare-up Ramblings From the Disabilities Manager

So, one of the few perks of being me, if you can call it that, (the ADD helps with this) is that when my brain is braining, I can do everything… All the things… All the stuffs! I can run the Disabilities Team, put together the Online Festivals, run the moot, cook elaborate meals for my family, go to my burlesque classes, go to the gym, write my novels, edit other’s novels, help with Pagan Dawn, support the community, raise money for charity, be peer support for an organisation I support for women with serious pregnancy complications and everything else you all see me doing (let’s face it, I’m not quiet about it; am i? I’m not all that quiet about much!)… But then, the time inevitably comes when I can’t do any of it… I can’t cook, I can’t walk, I can barely talk or type… I started writing this on the 28th of June (It’s currently 4am and I can’t sleep due to a persistent pain in my lower back, my hips and now my right leg… Which is bizarre and it’s usually my left leg…), I’m not sure when I’ll be able to finish it… Perhaps I should but dates throughout to show when I’ve written which bits…

I constantly have people suggesting that I slow down, not take on as much, only focus on one thing so I don’t overload myself… But my brain doesn’t work that way. The flare ups, the emotional and physical crashes that I get every few months, I get them whether I’m busy or not! So… While I’m able, I like to be busy and my brain works best when it has a lot to do. I can never concentrate on one thing for very long so it’s best if I do twenty minutes on one thing then switch to another then onto another until it’s all done. Took me years to figure out that was how my brain worked best and I’m very grateful for the knowledge, for see how well I work now I have this gift?

(Currently 8:50 1 July… The children are still asleep and I’m not in all that much extra pain today but my mind is more erratic than usual and I’ve been awake since about six with the same infernal song stuck in my damned head! Don’t even know what it’s called or the lyrics… Just a tune that I partially heard on the radio… The same few bars of the intro before it was turned off in time to listen to Paul O’Grady last week…)

I’m given a choice… Do nothing ever… Or do the things I can, when I can and then when I crash… Hope that those around me care and understand enough to allow me that time to recover from being all the crap that is me… I went through a phase… A few years, in fact… Of doing nothing. From 2013 to 2016, I sunk into a pit of self pity and didn’t engage at all with anything or anyone outside of the small bubble of my direct acquaintance… Was I happy that way? It was less complicated, that’s for damned sure… But I don’t think I could ever be happy unless I was serving my community, my country, my family and my friends…

So, I made the choice and I’m very lucky to be surrounded by the very people I’d always dreamed of working with. People who understand and tell me it’s alright to crash and take time for me and that my work will be right there for me when I get back.

(Currently the 4th of July – 3pm, just before the kids come home from school)

Just had a letter from PIP, I have an assessment a week on Thursday… Which is just what I needed when I’m in the midst of a rather scary flare up. Part of me is grateful because I always seem to be at my best for these assessments and find myself having to explain why I’m so coherent and able and trying to demonstrate how I am at my worst… They’ll likely see it for themselves this time… But the other part of me is very scared right now. I’m likely going to lose the tiny bit of PIP they “awarded” me last time, which was less than half what I was rightly entitled to but I was too weak to fight them… And this time I have no option, I’ll have to fight!

But also… This flare up isn’t like the ones I’m used to… Always before they centred around a particular side of my illnesses; the pain or the mental sluggishness or the forgetfulness and all the other stuff… This time… I’m getting it all at once and I feel myself truly drowning in a sea of pain, confusion, fear and depression… Always before I could focus on something to keep my mind steady until I could come out the other side and say “I’m alright, I’m back. I’m ok.” This time, I can’t hold onto anything… No lifeboat, no lifejacket… Not even a polo!

I’m sorry if these ramblings make no sense. Each sentence is struggling to get out amidst the sludge that is my brain… I keep saying sludge and I usually hate to repeat myself, which should give some indication of the lack of brain I have right now…

So, while I tread water in this sea of sludgy panic, I hope that you can forgive me when I’m not around and hope that you won’t think less of me for my weakness… And I hope you can trust me when I say that I’m fighting like hell to get back to you all…

Health Information Week

As a Staffordshire library assistant I’m very aware of the various campaigns run throughout the year to provide services for the public; your local library can provide a wealth of information and services for all walks of life from Baby Bounce and Rhyme sessions to access to Ancestry and Genealogy websites and training in the use of computers.

The beginning of July sees Health Information week, which the NHS explains as:

“Health Information Week is a multi-sector campaign to promote the good quality health resources that are available to the public. This campaign aims to encourage partnership working across sectors and benefit all staff and the public by raising awareness of the resources that are available to them.”


But basically it’s about promoting good health practice and communication so that you know who to contact and who/how to get in touch.

Here in Staffordshire for example, this includes stalls and displays on a wide variety of health themes from Mental health and the availability of books on prescription* through to arthritis support and blood pressure testing, the  NHS site suggests that Health information week should help promote the following

Reduce the number of people who smoke
•Reduce obesity / increase exercise
•Support sensible drinking
•Improve sexual health
•Improve mental health and wellbeing
•Tackle health inequalities

Throughout the UK libraries will be running similar projects so it’s always worth popping in and having a word if you do need information.


Carl Johnson – District Disabilities Liaison for Mid-West & Wales.